By Dr. Raymond J. Huntington

Indicator #1: Grades and teacher conferences

Listening, following directions, putting forth enough effort and completing classwork neatly and on-time all have an impact on grades. Conferences with teachers are a good way to determine your child's performance in all of these areas. When you meet with your child's teachers, ask for suggestions of specific activities you can undertake at home to support efforts at school. It's also important to tell the teacher about any issues that may affect your child's academic success. Family tension, financial concerns, health issues or marital problems directly impact a child's ability to concentrate in school.

Indicator #2: Standardized test results

In recent years, parents and students have paid the most attention to standardized tests during the spring - when many states and districts administer exams that now determine a student's ability to graduate or move on to the next grade. But you can get a good idea of which skills should be strengthened in advance of these tests by taking a second look at the results of other standardized exams that may have been given during the fall. This is particularly true in school districts that administer tests at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the year to measure students' progress. If your child scored less than satisfactorily in reading or mathematics at the beginning of the year, for example, you might pay particular attention to these areas as he or she prepares for the high stakes tests that will be given in just a few months.

Indicator #3: The Work/Life Balance

Take a look at your child's academic success during the first half of the year and weigh it against all of the extracurricular activities that filled his or her schedule. Were there enough hours in a typical day last semester to keep up with schoolwork while enjoying every activity? Working collaboratively, parents and students should prioritize activities that are most important, and create a schedule that strikes the right balance.


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